- 2018 WCHA Championship: The 2018 men's Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) Championship is set, as Northern Michigan will host defending champion Michigan Tech in an all-Upper Peninsula clash for the inaugural Jeff Sauer WCHA Championship Trophy, Presented by Anderson's Pure Maple Syrup. After each team won a semifinal-round Game 3 in overtime, the Wildcats and Huskies will drop the puck at 7:07 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 17 at the Berry Events Center in Marquette, Mich., with the winner earning the WCHA's automatic bid to the 2018 Division I Men's Hockey Championship. The game will be televised in the Upper Peninsula on FOX-UP and streamed on WCHA.tv.
- Northern Michigan has not played in the NCAA tournament since 2010, while Michigan Tech is looking for its second-straight appearance and third in the last four years (after snapping a 24-year drought in 2015).
- About Northern Michigan: The second No. 2 seed in as many years of the on-campus format to host the WCHA Championship, the Wildcats outlasted third-seeded Bowling Green in the semifinal round of the 2018 WCHA Playoffs. Troy Loggins' overtime winner gave NMU the series victory over BGSU, while the Wildcats also took their quarterfinal-round series against Alabama Huntsville in three.
- Northern Michigan is playing in its first conference championship game since the 2010 CCHA title contest. The Wildcats are 3-1 all-time in WCHA championship games (all at neutral sites), winning in 1989, 1991 and 1992 at the St. Paul (MN) Civic Center.
- In his first year as a NCAA Division I bench boss, WCHA Coach of the Year Grant Potulny has engineered the finest NMU season in over a decade. The Wildcats enter Saturday's game tied for third nationally in victories with their first 25-win season (25-14-3) since the 2001-02 campaign (26-12-2), part of the program's first 20-win effort since 2009-10 (20-13-8).
- The Wildcats have a NCAA-best 17 home wins this season (including four this postseason), while they are tied for third with an .810 winning percentage at the Berry Events Center (17-4-0).
- About Michigan Tech: The defending WCHA playoff champion Huskies battled from the fifth seed to their second-straight championship game appearance (and third in the last four years), going 4-1-0 on the road. Michigan Tech swept No. 4 seed Bemidji State (scoring 10 goals in the process), then bounced back from a Game 1 loss to twice stave off a season-ending defeat with victories in Games 2 and 3 at top-seeded Minnesota State. The Huskies' four road wins are the most-ever in a single postseason.
- Michigan Tech defeated BGSU, 3-2 in double OT, in the 2017 WCHA Championship. The Huskies are now 3-2 in WCHA title games (also winning in 1962 and 1965), while they earned WCHA co-playoff titles in 1960, 1969, 1974, 1975, 1976 and 1981.
- First-year head coach Joe Shawhan, who took the reins following three seasons as a Tech assistant (and nine seasons with fellow UP schools LSSU and NMU), has guided the Huskies to a 21-16-5 mark. Tech has now reached the 20-win plateau for four-consecutive seasons, its longest run since a four-year stretch under the legendary John MacInnes from 1972-76.
- While this is the biggest yet, the Huskies have made a habit of championship game appearances in 2017-18. Tech won the Ice Breaker Tournament in Duluth, while playing in the title games at the Great Lakes Invitational and the Ice Vegas Invitational.
- Suess for Hobey: Minnesota State senior C.J. Suess, the WCHA Offensive Player of the Year, Scoring Champion and first-team All-WCHA selection, is a top-10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award. Suess has a career-high 43 points (22g-21a) in 39 games.
By the Numbers
- 6: NCAA-high game-winning goals this season for Northern Michigan sophomore forward Darien Craighead.
- 20 (x4): For the third-consecutive season, the WCHA has produced four, 20-win teams: Minnesota State (29-9-1), Northern Michigan (25-14-3), Bowling Green (23-12-6) and Michigan Tech (21-16-5).
- 40: NCAA-leading assists for NMU junior forward Adam Rockwood (among his league-best 48 points overall), most helpers by a WCHA skater since Minnesota Duluth's Jack Connolly also had 40 during his 2011-12 Hobey Baker Award-winning season. The last player to top 40 was Connolly, who had 41 assists in 2010-11.
WCHA Postseason Tournament Primer
- Back on Campus: Once again bringing the singular intensity of playoff hockey directly to its member institution fans, the three-week, eight-team 2018 WCHA Postseason Tournament has been held at home sites of the highest-ranked seeds.
- WCHA Playoffs: The WCHA Playoffs consisted of the best-of-three quarterfinal-round series hosted by the top four seeds (March 2-4), followed by the best-of-three semifinals the weekend of March 9-11 (hosted by the top remaining seeds).
- WCHA Championship: Northern Michigan and Michigan Tech are meeting this Saturday, March 18 in the one-game 2018 WCHA Championship, hosted by the Wildcats at the Berry Events Center in Marquette, Mich.
- Remembering the Dean: The WCHA honored to introduce the Jeff Sauer WCHA Championship Trophy, Presented by Anderson's Pure Maple Syrup, to be awarded each season to the WCHA Postseason Tournament Champion, beginning with the upcoming 2018 League playoffs and championship. For more information on Coach Sauer's enduring legacy and his namesake trophy, please visit here.
- The 2018 WCHA Postseason Tournament is brought to you in part by supporting sponsors Anderson's Pure Maple Syrup, SPIRE Credit Union and UNRL.
2018 WCHA Championship
- No. 5 seed Michigan Tech at No. 2 seed Northern Michigan: These storied rivals split their 2017-18 regular season series, with each team winning twice on its own home ice. Northern Michigan posted 4-0 (Nov. 11) and 2-1 (Feb. 23) victories at the Berry Events Center, while Michigan Tech earned 4-1 (Nov. 10) and 3-2 (Feb. 24) triumphs at the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena.
- NMU's Robbie Payne scored three goals against Tech, while Atte Tolvanen went 2-1-0 with a 1.36 GAA and a .945 save percentage.
- MTU's Brent Baltus scored four of his 11 goals this season against the Wildcats. Patrick Munson went 1-1-0 with a 2.71 GAA and .889 save percentage in his two starts, while Devin Kero was 1-1-0 with a 2.00 GAA and .928 save percentage.
- The Wildcats lead the all-time series, 72-62-14, including a 40-24-6 edge at the Berry Events Center. The two programs last met in the conference tournament in 1994, when the Huskies earned a 5-1 victory in the WCHA Final Five semifinals.
2018 WCHA Playoffs (Semifinals)
- Tournament fifth-seed Michigan Tech twice staved off a season-ending defeat, winning Games 2 and 3 at top-seeded Minnesota State to earn a return trip to the WCHA Championship.
- A matchup of nationally-ranked teams did not disappoint, with tournament No. 2 seed Northern Michigan winning Game 3 in overtime to outlast third-seeded Bowling Green in a thrilling semifinal-round series.
- Full recaps and box scores, along with the "Inside the WCHA" highlights show and the WCHA Plays of the Week, Presented by SPIRE Credit Union, are available at wcha.com.
at (1) Minnesota State 2, (5) Michigan Tech 1
(5) Michigan Tech 4, at (1) Minnesota State 2
(5) Michigan Tech 2, at (1) Minnesota State 1 (OT)
(March 9, 10 and 11 at Verizon Center; Mankato, Minn.)
Tournament fifth-seed Michigan Tech twice staved off a season-ending defeat, winning Games 2 and 3 at top-seeded Minnesota State to earn a return trip to the WCHA Championship.
The MacNaughton Cup champion Mavericks opened the series with a 2-1 win Friday, extending their unbeaten streak to 14-straight games (13-0-1). Minnesota State scored the game's first two goals, both by freshmen, as Jared Spooner lit the lamp at 18:26 of the first period and Jake Jaremko scored on the power play in the second stanza. Connor LaCouvee made 18 saves to earn the win, while Joel L'Esperance scored the Huskies' lone goal.
Playing to save its season, Michigan Tech never trailed in a 4-2, Game 2 victory. Justin Misiak and Mark Auk scored first-period goals, Raymond Brice netted the eventual game-winner in the second period and Dylan Steman added an empty-netter. Tech goaltender Patrick "Packy" Munson, stepping in for an injured Devin Kero, stopped 31-of-33 shots in an excellent performance.
Jake Jackson and Munson lifted the Huskies to a thrilling 2-1, overtime win in Game 3. Jackson, a San Jose Sharks prospect, scored both Michigan Tech goals, including the series-winning marker at 15:07 of OT. Munson, meanwhile, stopped 41-of-42 shots, including all 18 he faced in the third period and overtime. Both regulation goals came in the second period, with Jackson giving MTU a 1-0 lead at 6:09 and Minnesota State's Zeb Knutson knotting the contest at 10:30.
at (2) Northern Michigan 6, (3) Bowling Green 1
(3) Bowling Green 1, at (2) Northern Michigan 0
at (2) Northern Michigan 3, (3) Bowling Green 2 (OT)
(March 9, 10 and 11 at Berry Events Center; Marquette, Mich.)
A matchup of nationally-ranked teams did not disappoint, with tournament No. 2 seed Northern Michigan winning Game 3 in overtime to outlast third-seeded Bowling Green in a thrilling semifinal-round series.
Like their quarterfinal-round series victory over Alabama Huntsville, Northern Michigan used an offensive outburst to win Game 1, 6-1. The visiting Falcons took a 1-0 lead just 1:42 into the contest on a goal by freshman Max Johnson, but the Wildcats scored the final six goals of the night. Troy Loggins tied the game later in the opening period, Robbie Payne netted the game-winner 2:20 into the second stanza and added a third-period marker, while Philip Beaulieu, Anthony Paskaruk (first of the season) and Mitchell Slattery also lit the lamp.
Saturday's Game 2 was much different, with Bowling Green goaltender Ryan Bednard posting a 23-save shutout in a 1-0 victory. The Florida Panthers' prospect made nine stops in the first period, six in the second and eight more in the third, while freshman Connor Ford scored the game's only goal with a power-play marker 3:05 into the final stanza.
Game 3 had dramatics worthy of a winner-take-all playoff contest, with Northern Michigan's Loggins scoring in overtime after Bowling Green had tied the game in the waning seconds of regulation. Loggins' heroics, which came at the 15:53 mark of OT, lifted the Wildcats to a 3-2 win and their first conference championship game since 2010. The extra session became necessary after BGSU senior Mitch McLain -- who earlier in the night reached the career 100-point plateau -- scored with eight seconds left in the third period, tying the game 2-2. McLain assisted on Johnson's second-period, power-play goal that also tied the contest (at 1-1), while NMU freshman Joseph Nardi gave the Wildcats a 2-1, third-period lead. Both goaltenders were excellent, with Bednard making 39 saves for the Falcons and Northern Michigan's Atte Tolvanen stopping 30 shots.